What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein, and it is found in wheat products, including breads, cereals, biscuits, crackers, soy sauce, sausages, pretty much all processed foods (unless labelled Gluten Free), pastries and pasta.
It can also be hidden in other foods through cross contamination, which is when gluten-free food is exposed to a gluten-containing ingredient, and even this small dose can trigger reactions in people such as oats that are not Gluten Free certified.
Gluten is a Common Food Sensitivity
There are many people that eat gluten thinking that they don’t have a sensitivity, when in reality, they absolutely do. The reason is that inflammation can be in low levels, so there aren’t any immediate significant symptoms. Perhaps you just get a headache, joint pain, anxiety or fatigue the next day? This is because there are two types of sensitivities to foods: IgG or igE. IgE reactions cause an immediate response, like an allergic reaction, whilst IgG reactions can take up to three days to show.
How Gluten Damages Your Health
1. Leaky Gut
Our gut operates a strict and effective border control to allow good nutrients into our bloodstream and to keep any nasties out. Enter zonulin, a protein that is the ultimate border control disrupter. Gluten accelerates the process of releasing this protein which loosens the walls between the cells and the gut, contributing to leaky gut.
2. Inflammatory Response
Inflammation occurs at any site of injury, and this is how you should look at the results of gluten in the gut, which is a clear sign that its consumption isn’t the healthiest choice. An inflamed response can cause abdominal pain and the aforementioned leaky gut.
This has major knock-on effects, such as an imbalanced immune system, autoimmune diseases, skin conditions, chronic fatigue and changes in weight an appetite.
3. Triggered Autoimmune Response
Gliadin is a component of gluten which, if it gains access to the bloodstream, it can trigger molecular mimicry. Molecular mimicry is quite complicated but, essentially, if a foreign protein or molecule finds itself in the gut, the immune system releases a load of antibodies to fight it. This is how our amazing body fights off illness and allows us to recover from viruses and diseases over and over again.
However, if there is something that looks incredibly similar to the cells lining the gut, which gliadin does, there is a possibility that our antibodies will mistakenly see our own tissues as foreign substances and go after it. It is important to note that this response doesn’t only affect people with celiac disease.
This inflammation from gluten could be a contributing factor or catalyst for developing Crohn’s disease or IBS.
The immune response isn’t isolated to the gut, this response can lead to a multitude of autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disorders, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and similar chronic issues.
4. Brain Fog
Gluten can indirectly affect your brain, via the development of celiac, Crohn’s and gut related disorders, and autoimmune diseases. There is more and more evidence of the incredibly strong gut-brain connection.
The gut regulates hormone distribution and signals to the brain, if this is disrupted it can directly affect brain function and your mood, leading to mental health issues. Scarier still, there is a possibility that this can lead to increased vulnerability to Dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.
So, Can I Eat Gluten?
Look, I know how good gluten tastes or, rather, the food that contains gluten. Who doesn’t like pasta and pastries? The problem is that gluten can have an accumulative effect leading to inflammation in the body over time. It’s just not worth it in my opinion.
Additionally, gluten is typically heavily sprayed with pesticides, so unless you’re buying completely organic foods, you’re probably also eating toxic pesticides, which will inevitably have a terrible impact on your general health. See more on toxicity in the body here.
It is undeniable that gluten has a detrimental effect on the gut, causing inflammation and increased gut permeability and, in turn, autoimmune responses that lead to further health issues. It is also clear that our mind and body are intrinsically connected, and our gut regulates so much of both.
Therefore, a healthy gut maintains the perfect equilibrium in our body, which keeps us fit and healthy. Healthy gut, healthy body, healthy mind.
So, no, I don’t recommend you eat gluten. If you don’t remove gluten all together, I urge you to heavily cut down on gluten intake. I also highly encourage you to look into your gut health if you suffer from issues such as skin problems, brain fog, weight gain, bloating and joint pain.
Hundreds of people have been able to reset, rebalance and optimise their gut health through the GI Protocol, because it works on leaky gut in three key ways, in a specific, science-based manner.
Please remember that advertised ‘gluten-free’ food doesn’t necessarily equate to ‘healthy’, but that’s for a different post!